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The Little Lame Prince by Miss Mulock

Part 2 out of 4

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their wings. Yet there they were, making their
fearless way through the sky.

Prince Dolor looked at them as one after the
other they glided past him; and they looked at
him--those pretty swallows, with their changing
necks and bright eyes--as if wondering to meet
in mid-air such an extraordinary sort of bird.

"Oh, I wish I were going with you, you lovely
creatures! I'm getting so tired of this dull
plain, and the dreary and lonely tower. I do
so want to see the world! Pretty swallows,
dear swallows! tell me what it looks like--the
beautiful, wonderful world!"

But the swallows flew past him--steadily,
slowly pursuing their course as if inside each
little head had been a mariner's compass, to
guide them safe over land and sea, direct to the
place where they wished to go.

The boy looked after them with envy. For a
long time he followed with his eyes the faint,
wavy black line as it floated away, sometimes
changing its curves a little, but never deviating
from its settled course, till it vanished entirely
out of sight.

Then he settled himself down in the center of
the cloak, feeling quite sad and lonely.

"I think I'll go home," said he, and repeated
his "Abracadabra, tum tum ti!" with a rather
heavy heart. The more he had, the more he
wanted; and it is not always one can have everything
one wants--at least, at the exact minute
one craves for it; not even though one is a
prince, and has a powerful and beneficent godmother.

He did not like to vex her by calling for her
and telling her how unhappy he was, in spite of
all her goodness; so he just kept his trouble to
himself, went back to his lonely tower, and
spent three days in silent melancholy, without
even attempting another journey on his


The fourth day it happened that the
deaf-mute paid his accustomed visit,
after which Prince Dolor's spirits
rose. They always did when he got
the new books which, just to relieve his
conscience, the King of Nomansland regularly sent
to his nephew; with many new toys also, though
the latter were disregarded now.

"Toys, indeed! when I'm a big boy," said
the Prince, with disdain, and would scarcely
condescend to mount a rocking-horse which had
come, somehow or other,--I can't be expected
to explain things very exactly,--packed on the
back of the other, the great black horse, which
stood and fed contentedly at the bottom of the

Prince Dolor leaned over and looked at it, and
thought how grand it must be to get upon its
back--this grand live steed--and ride away,
like the pictures of knights.

"Suppose I was a knight," he said to himself;
"then I should be obliged to ride out and see the

But he kept all these thoughts to himself, and
just sat still, devouring his new books till he
had come to the end of them all. It was a repast
not unlike the Barmecide's feast which you
read of in the "Arabian Nights," which
consisted of very elegant but empty dishes, or that
supper of Sancho Panza in "Don Quixote,"
where, the minute the smoking dishes came on
the table, the physician waved his hand and they
were all taken away.

Thus almost all the ordinary delights of boy-
life had been taken away from, or rather never
given to this poor little prince.

"I wonder," he would sometimes think--"I
wonder what it feels like to be on the back of a
horse, galloping away, or holding the reins in a
carriage, and tearing across the country, or
jumping a ditch, or running a race, such as I
read of or see in pictures. What a lot of things
there are that I should like to do! But first I
should like to go and see the world. I'll try."

Apparently it was his godmother's plan
always to let him try, and try hard, before he
gained anything. This day the knots that tied
up his traveling-cloak were more than usually
troublesome, and he was a full half-hour before
he got out into the open air, and found himself
floating merrily over the top of the tower.

Hitherto, in all his journeys, he had never
let himself go out of sight of home, for the
dreary building, after all, was home--he remembered
no other; but now he felt sick of the very
look of his tower, with its round smooth walls
and level battlements.

"Off we go!" cried he, when the cloak stirred
itself with a slight, slow motion, as if waiting his
orders. "Anywhere anywhere, so that I am
away from here, and out into the world."

As he spoke, the cloak, as if seized suddenly
with a new idea, bounded forward and went
skimming through the air, faster than the very
fastest railway train.

"Gee-up! gee-up!" cried Prince Dolor in
great excitement. "This is as good as riding a

And he patted the cloak as if it had been a
horse--that is, in the way he supposed horses
ought to be patted--and tossed his head back
to meet the fresh breeze, and pulled his coat
collar up and his hat down as he felt the wind
grow keener and colder--colder than anything he
had ever known.

"What does it matter, though?" said he.
"I'm a boy, and boys ought not to mind anything."

Still, for all his good-will, by and by, he began
to shiver exceedingly; also, he had come away
without his dinner, and he grew frightfully
hungry. And to add to everything, the sunshiny
day changed into rain, and being high
up, in the very midst of the clouds, he got soaked
through and through in a very few minutes.

"Shall I turn back?" meditated he.
"Suppose I say `Abracadabra?' "

Here he stopped, for already the cloak gave
an obedient lurch, as if it were expecting to be
sent home immediately.

"No--I can't--I can't go back! I must go
forward and see the world. But oh! if I had
but the shabbiest old rug to shelter me from the
rain, or the driest morsel of bread and cheese,
just to keep me from starving! Still, I don't
much mind; I'm a prince, and ought to be able
to stand anything. Hold on, cloak, we'll make
the best of it."

It was a most curious circumstance, but no
sooner had he said this than he felt stealing over
his knees something warm and soft; in fact, a
most beautiful bearskin, which folded itself
round him quite naturally, and cuddled him up
as closely as if he had been the cub of the kind
old mother-bear that once owned it. Then feeling
in his pocket, which suddenly stuck out in
a marvelous way, he found, not exactly bread
and cheese, nor even sandwiches, but a packet
of the most delicious food he had ever tasted.
It was not meat, nor pudding, but a combination
of both, and it served him excellently for
both. He ate his dinner with the greatest
gusto imaginable, till he grew so thirsty he did
not know what to do.

"Couldn't I have just one drop of water, if
it didn't trouble you too much, kindest of godmothers?"

For he really thought this want was beyond
her power to supply. All the water which supplied
Hopeless Tower was pumped up with difficulty
from a deep artesian well--there were
such things known in Nomansland--which had
been made at the foot of it. But around, for
miles upon miles, the desolate plain was perfectly
dry. And above it, high in the air, how
could he expect to find a well, or to get even
a drop of water?

He forgot one thing--the rain. While he
spoke, it came on in another wild burst, as if
the clouds had poured themselves out in a
passion of crying, wetting him certainly, but
leaving behind, in a large glass vessel which he
had never noticed before, enough water to
quench the thirst of two or three boys at least.
And it was so fresh, so pure--as water from the
clouds always is when it does not catch the soot
from city chimneys and other defilements--that
he drank it, every drop, with the greatest
delight and content.

Also, as soon as it was empty the rain filled it
again, so that he was able to wash his face and
hands and refresh himself exceedingly. Then
the sun came out and dried him in no time.
After that he curled himself up under the bear-
skin rug, and though he determined to be the
most wide-awake boy imaginable, being so
exceedingly snug and warm and comfortable,
Prince Dolor condescended to shut his eyes just
for one minute. The next minute he was sound

When he awoke, he found himself floating
over a country quite unlike anything he had
ever seen before.

Yet it was nothing but what most of you
children see every day and never notice it--a pretty
country landscape, like England, Scotland,
France, or any other land you choose to name.
It had no particular features--nothing in it
grand or lovely--was simply pretty, nothing
more; yet to Prince Dolor, who had never gone
beyond his lonely tower and level plain, it
appeared the most charming sight imaginable.

First, there was a river. It came tumbling
down the hillside, frothing and foaming, playing
at hide-and-seek among the rocks, then
bursting out in noisy fun like a child, to bury
itself in deep, still pools. Afterward it went
steadily on for a while, like a good grown-up
person, till it came to another big rock, where it
misbehaved itself extremely. It turned into a
cataract, and went tumbling over and over,
after a fashion that made the prince--who had
never seen water before, except in his bath or
his drinking-cup--clap his hands with delight.

"It is so active, so alive! I like things active
and alive!" cried he, and watched it shimmering
and dancing, whirling and leaping, till, after
a few windings and vagaries, it settled into a
respectable stream. After that it went along,
deep and quiet, but flowing steadily on, till it
reached a large lake, into which it slipped and
so ended its course.

All this the boy saw, either with his own
naked eye or through his gold spectacles. He
saw also as in a picture, beautiful but silent,
many other things which struck him with
wonder, especially a grove of trees.

Only think, to have lived to his age (which
he himself did not know, as he did not know his
own birthday) and never to have seen trees!
As he floated over these oaks, they seemed to
him--trunk, branches, and leaves--the most
curious sight imaginable.

"If I could only get nearer, so as to touch
them," said he, and immediately the obedient
cloak ducked down; Prince Dolor made a
snatch at the topmost twig of the tallest tree,
and caught a bunch of leaves in his hand.

Just a bunch of green leaves--such as we see
in myriads; watching them bud, grow, fall, and
then kicking them along on the ground as if
they were worth nothing. Yet how wonderful
they are--every one of them a little different.
I don't suppose you could ever find two leaves
exactly alike in form, color, and size--no more
than you could find two faces alike, or two
characters exactly the same. The plan of this world
is infinite similarity and yet infinite variety.

Prince Dolor examined his leaves with the
greatest curiosity--and also a little caterpillar
that he found walking over one of them. He
coaxed it to take an additional walk over his
finger, which it did with the greatest dignity
and decorum, as if it, Mr. Caterpillar, were the
most important individual in existence. It
amused him for a long time; and when a sudden
gust of wind blew it overboard, leaves and all,
he felt quite disconsolate.

"Still there must be many live creatures in
the world besides caterpillars. I should like to
see a few of them."

The cloak gave a little dip down, as if to say
"All right, my Prince," and bore him across the
oak forest to a long fertile valley--called in
Scotland a strath and in England a weald, but
what they call it in the tongue of Nomansland
I do not know. It was made up of cornfields,
pasturefields, lanes, hedges, brooks, and ponds.
Also, in it were what the prince desired to see
--a quantity of living creatures, wild and tame.
Cows and horses, lambs and sheep, fed in the
meadows; pigs and fowls walked about the
farm-yards; and in lonelier places hares
scudded, rabbits burrowed, and pheasants and
partridges, with many other smaller birds,
inhabited the fields and woods.

Through his wonderful spectacles the Prince
could see everything; but, as I said, it was a
silent picture; he was too high up to catch
anything except a faint murmur, which only
aroused his anxiety to hear more.

"I have as good as two pairs of eyes," he
thought. "I wonder if my godmother would
give me a second pair of ears."

Scarcely had he spoken than he found lying
on his lap the most curious little parcel, all done
up in silvery paper. And it contained--what
do you think? Actually a pair of silver ears,
which, when he tried them on, fitted so exactly
over his own that he hardly felt them, except
for the difference they made in his hearing.

There is something which we listen to daily
and never notice. I mean the sounds of the
visible world, animate and inanimate. Winds
blowing, waters flowing, trees stirring, insects
whirring (dear me! I am quite unconsciously
writing rhyme), with the various cries of birds
and beasts,--lowing cattle, bleating sheep,
grunting pigs, and cackling hens,--all the
infinite discords that somehow or other make a
beautiful harmony.

We hear this, and are so accustomed to it that
we think nothing of it; but Prince Dolor, who
had lived all his days in the dead silence of
Hopeless Tower, heard it for the first time.
And oh! if you had seen his face.

He listened, listened, as if he could never have
done listening. And he looked and looked, as if
he could not gaze enough. Above all, the motion
of the animals delighted him: cows walking,
horses galloping, little lambs and calves
running races across the meadows, were such a
treat for him to watch--he that was always so
quiet. But, these creatures having four legs,
and he only two, the difference did not strike
him painfully.

Still, by and by, after the fashion of children,
--and I fear, of many big people too,--he began
to want something more than he had, something
fresh and new.

"Godmother," he said, having now begun to
believe that, whether he saw her or not, he could
always speak to her with full confidence that
she would hear him--"Godmother, all these
creatures I like exceedingly; but I should like
better to see a creature like myself. Couldn't
you show me just one little boy?"

There was a sigh behind him,--it might have
been only the wind,--and the cloak remained
so long balanced motionless in air that he was
half afraid his godmother had forgotten him,
or was offended with him for asking too much.
Suddenly a shrill whistle startled him, even
through his silver ears, and looking downward,
he saw start up from behind a bush on a common,

Neither a sheep nor a horse nor a cow--nothing
upon four legs. This creature had only
two; but they were long, straight, and strong.
And it had a lithe, active body, and a curly head
of black hair set upon its shoulders. It was a
boy, a shepherd-boy, about the Prince's own
age--but, oh! so different.

Not that he was an ugly boy--though his face
was almost as red as his hands, and his shaggy
hair matted like the backs of his own sheep.
He was rather a nice-looking lad; and seemed
so bright and healthy and good-tempered--
"jolly" would be the word, only I am not sure
if they have such a one in the elegant language
of Nomansland--that the little Prince watched
him with great admiration.

"Might he come and play with me? I would
drop down to the ground to him, or fetch him up
to me here. Oh, how nice it would be if I only
had a little boy to play with me."

But the cloak, usually so obedient to his
wishes, disobeyed him now. There were evi-
dently some things which his godmother either
could not or would not give. The cloak hung
stationary, high in air, never attempting to
descend. The shepherd-lad evidently took it for
a large bird, and, shading his eyes, looked up at
it, making the Prince's heart beat fast.

However, nothing ensued. The boy turned
round, with a long, loud whistle--seemingly his
usual and only way of expressing his feelings.
He could not make the thing out exactly--it was
a rather mysterious affair, but it did not trouble
him much--he was not an "examining" boy.

Then, stretching himself, for he had been
evidently half asleep, he began flopping his
shoulders with his arms to wake and warm himself;
while his dog, a rough collie, who had been
guarding the sheep meanwhile, began to jump
upon him, barking with delight.

"Down, Snap, down: Stop that, or I'll thrash
you," the Prince heard him say; though with
such a rough, hard voice and queer pronunciation
that it was difficult to make the words out.
"Hollo! Let's warm ourselves by a race."

They started off together, boy and dog--barking
and shouting, till it was doubtful which
made the more noise or ran the faster. A
regular steeplechase it was: first across the level
common, greatly disturbing the quiet sheep; and
then tearing away across country, scrambling
through hedges and leaping ditches, and tumbling
up and down over plowed fields. They did
not seem to have anything to run for--but as if
they did it, both of them, for the mere pleasure
of motion.

And what a pleasure that seemed! To the
dog of course, but scarcely less so to the boy.
How he skimmed along over the ground--his
cheeks glowing, and his hair flying, and his legs
--oh, what a pair of legs he had!

Prince Dolor watched him with great intentness,
and in a state of excitement almost equal
to that of the runner himself--for a while.
Then the sweet, pale face grew a trifle paler, the
lips began to quiver, and the eyes to fill.

"How nice it must be to run like that!" he
said softly, thinking that never--no, never in
this world--would he be able to do the same.

Now he understood what his godmother had
meant when she gave him his traveling-cloak,
and why he had heard that sigh--he was sure it
was hers--when he had asked to see "just one
little boy."

"I think I had rather not look at him again,"
said the poor little Prince, drawing himself
back into the center of his cloak, and resuming
his favorite posture, sitting like a Turk, with
his arms wrapped round his feeble, useless legs.

"You're no good to me," he said, patting
them mournfully. "You never will be any good
to me. I wonder why I had you at all. I
wonder why I was born at all, since I was not
to grow up like other boys. Why not?"

A question so strange, so sad, yet so often
occurring in some form or other in this world
--as you will find, my children, when you are
older--that even if he had put it to his mother
she could only have answered it, as we have to
answer many as difficult things, by simply saying,
"I don't know." There is much that we do
not know and cannot understand--we big folks
no more than you little ones. We have to accept
it all just as you have to accept anything which
your parents may tell you, even though you
don't as yet see the reason of it. You may sometime,
if you do exactly as they tell you, and are
content to wait.

Prince Dolor sat a good while thus, or it
appeared to him a good while, so many thoughts
came and went through his poor young mind--
thoughts of great bitterness, which, little though
he was, seemed to make him grow years older
in a few minutes.

Then he fancied the cloak began to rock
gently to and fro, with a soothing kind of motion,
as if he were in somebody's arms: somebody
who did not speak, but loved him and comforted
him without need of words; not by deceiving
him with false encouragement or hope,
but by making him see the plain, hard truth in
all its hardness, and thus letting him quietly
face it, till it grew softened down, and did not
seem nearly so dreadful after all.

Through the dreary silence and blankness,
for he had placed himself so that he could see
nothing but the sky, and had taken off his silver
ears as well as his gold spectacles--what was the
use of either when he had no legs with which to
walk or run?--up from below there rose a
delicious sound.

You have heard it hundreds of times, my
children, and so have I. When I was a child I
thought there was nothing so sweet; and I think
so still. It was just the song of a skylark,
mounting higher and higher from the ground,
till it came so close that Prince Dolor could
distinguish his quivering wings and tiny body,
almost too tiny to contain such a gush of music.

"Oh, you beautiful, beautiful bird!" cried he;
"I should dearly like to take you in and cuddle
you. That is, if I could--if I dared."

But he hesitated. The little brown creature
with its loud heavenly voice almost made him
afraid. Nevertheless, it also made him happy;
and he watched and listened--so absorbed that
he forgot all regret and pain, forgot everything
in the world except the little lark.

It soared and soared, and he was just
wondering if it would soar out of sight, and what in
the world he should do when it was gone, when
it suddenly closed its wings, as larks do when
they mean to drop to the ground. But, instead
of dropping to the ground, it dropped right into
the little boy's breast.

What felicity! If it would only stay! A
tiny, soft thing to fondle and kiss, to sing to
him all day long, and be his playfellow and
companion, tame and tender, while to the rest of the
world it was a wild bird of the air. What a
pride, what a delight! To have something that
nobody else had--something all his own. As the
traveling-cloak traveled on, he little heeded
where, and the lark still stayed, nestled down
in his bosom, hopped from his hand to his
shoulder, and kissed him with its dainty beak,
as if it loved him, Prince Dolor forgot all his
grief, and was entirely happy.

But when he got in sight of Hopeless Tower
a painful thought struck him.

"My pretty bird, what am I to do with you?
If I take you into my room and shut you up
there, you, a wild skylark of the air, what will
become of you? I am used to this, but you are
not. You will be so miserable; and suppose
my nurse should find you--she who can't bear
the sound of singing? Besides, I remember her
once telling me that the nicest thing she ever
ate in her life was lark pie!"

The little boy shivered all over at the thought.
And, though the merry lark immediately broke
into the loudest carol, as if saying derisively
that he defied anybody to eat him, still, Prince
Dolor was very uneasy. In another minute he
had made up his mind.

"No, my bird, nothing so dreadful shall
happen to you if I can help it; I would rather
do without you altogether. Yes, I'll try. Fly
away, my darling, my beautiful! Good-by, my
merry, merry bird."

Opening his two caressing hands, in which,
as if for protection, he had folded it, he let the
lark go. It lingered a minute, perching on the
rim of the cloak, and looking at him with eyes
of almost human tenderness; then away it flew,
far up into the blue sky. It was only a bird.

But some time after, when Prince Dolor had
eaten his supper--somewhat drearily, except
for the thought that he could not possibly sup
off lark pie now--and gone quietly to bed, the
old familiar little bed, where he was accustomed
to sleep, or lie awake contentedly thinking--
suddenly he heard outside the window a little
faint carol--faint but cheerful--cheerful even
though it was the middle of the night.

The dear little lark! it had not flown away,
after all. And it was truly the most extraordinary
bird, for, unlike ordinary larks, it
kept hovering about the tower in the silence and
darkness of the night, outside the window or
over the roof. Whenever he listened for a
moment, he heard it singing still.

He went to sleep as happy as a king.


Happy as a king." How far kings
are happy I cannot say, no more
than could Prince Dolor, though he
had once been a king himself. But
he remembered nothing about it, and there was
nobody to tell him, except his nurse, who had
been forbidden upon pain of death to let him
know anything about his dead parents, or the
king his uncle, or indeed any part of his own

Sometimes he speculated about himself,
whether he had had a father and mother as other
little boys had what they had been like, and
why he had never seen them. But, knowing
nothing about them, he did not miss them--only
once or twice, reading pretty stories about little
children and their mothers, who helped them
when they were in difficulty and comforted
them when they were sick, he feeling ill and dull
and lonely, wondered what had become of his
mother and why she never came to see him.

Then, in his history lessons, of course he read
about kings and princes, and the governments
of different countries, and the events that
happened there. And though he but faintly took in
all this, still he did take it in a little, and worried
his young brain about it, and perplexed his
nurse with questions, to which she returned
sharp and mysterious answers, which only set
him thinking the more.

He had plenty of time for thinking. After
his last journey in the traveling-cloak, the
journey which had given him so much pain, his
desire to see the world somehow faded away.
He contented himself with reading his books,
and looking out of the tower windows, and
listening to his beloved little lark, which had come
home with him that day, and never left him

True, it kept out of the way; and though his
nurse sometimes dimly heard it, and said
"What is that horrid noise outside?" she never
got the faintest chance of making it into a lark
pie. Prince Dolor had his pet all to himself,
and though he seldom saw it, he knew it was near
him, and he caught continually, at odd hours of
the day, and even in the night, fragments of its
delicious song.

All during the winter--so far as there ever
was any difference between summer and winter
in Hopeless Tower--the little bird cheered and
amused him. He scarcely needed anything
more--not even his traveling-cloak, which lay
bundled up unnoticed in a corner, tied up in its
innumerable knots.

Nor did his godmother come near him. It
seemed as if she had given these treasures and
left him alone--to use them or lose them, apply
them or misapply them, according to his own
choice. That is all we can do with children
when they grow into big children old enough to
distinguish between right and wrong, and too
old to be forced to do either.

Prince Dolor was now quite a big boy. Not
tall--alas! he never could be that, with his poor
little shrunken legs, which were of no use, only
an encumbrance. But he was stout and strong,
with great sturdy shoulders, and muscular
arms, upon which he could swing himself about
almost like a monkey. As if in compensation
for his useless lower limbs, Nature had given
to these extra strength and activity. His face,
too, was very handsome; thinner, firmer, more
manly; but still the sweet face of his childhood
--his mother's own face.

How his mother would have liked to look at
him! Perhaps she did--who knows?

The boy was not a stupid boy either. He
could learn almost anything he chose--and he
did choose, which was more than half the battle.
He never gave up his lessons till he had learned
them all--never thought it a punishment that
he had to work at them, and that they cost him a
deal of trouble sometimes.

"But," thought he, "men work, and it must
be so grand to be a man--a prince too; and I
fancy princes work harder than anybody--
except kings. The princes I read about generally
turn into kings. I wonder"--the boy was always
wondering--"Nurse,"--and one day he
startled her with a sudden question,--"tell me--
shall I ever be a king?"

The woman stood, perplexed beyond expression.
So long a time had passed by since her
crime--if it were a crime--and her sentence,
that she now seldom thought of either. Even
her punishment--to be shut up for life in Hopeless
Tower--she had gradually got used to.
Used also to the little lame Prince, her charge
--whom at first she had hated, though she carefully
did everything to keep him alive, since
upon him her own life hung.

But latterly she had ceased to hate him, and,
in a sort of way, almost loved him--at least,
enough to be sorry for him--an innocent child,
imprisoned here till he grew into an old man,
and became a dull, worn-out creature like
herself. Sometimes, watching him, she felt more
sorry for him than even for herself; and then,
seeing she looked a less miserable and ugly
woman, he did not shrink from her as usual.

He did not now. "Nurse--dear nurse," said
he, "I don't mean to vex you, but tell me what
is a king? shall I ever be one?"

When she began to think less of herself and
more of the child, the woman's courage
increased. The idea came to her--what harm
would it be, even if he did know his own history?
Perhaps he ought to know it--for there had
been various ups and downs, usurpations,
revolutions, and restorations in Nomansland, as in
most other countries. Something might happen
--who could tell? Changes might occur. Possibly
a crown would even yet be set upon those
pretty, fair curls--which she began to think
prettier than ever when she saw the imaginary
coronet upon them.

She sat down, considering whether her oath,
never to "say a word" to Prince Dolor about
himself, would be broken if she were to take a
pencil and write what was to be told. A mere
quibble--a mean, miserable quibble. But then
she was a miserable woman, more to be pitied
than scorned.

After long doubt, and with great trepidation,
she put her fingers to her lips, and taking the
Prince's slate--with the sponge tied to it, ready
to rub out the writing in a minute--she wrote:

"You are a king."

Prince Dolor started. His face grew pale,
and then flushed all over; he held himself erect.
Lame as he was, anybody could see he was born
to be a king.

"Hush!" said the nurse, as he was beginning
to speak. And then, terribly frightened all the
while,--people who have done wrong always
are frightened,--she wrote down in a few
hurried sentences his history. How his parents
had died--his uncle had usurped his throne, and
sent him to end his days in this lonely tower.

"I, too," added she, bursting into tears.
"Unless, indeed, you could get out into the world,
and fight for your rights like a man. And
fight for me also, my Prince, that I may not die
in this desolate place."

"Poor old nurse!" said the boy compassion-
ately. For somehow, boy as he was, when he
heard he was born to be a king, he felt like a man
--like a king--who could afford to be tender
because he was strong.

He scarcely slept that night, and even though
he heard his little lark singing in the sunrise,
he barely listened to it. Things more serious
and important had taken possession of his mind.

"Suppose," thought he, "I were to do as she
says, and go out in the world, no matter how it
hurts me--the world of people, active people, as
that boy I saw. They might only laugh at me--
poor helpless creature that I am; but still I
might show them I could do something. At any
rate, I might go and see if there were anything
for me to do. Godmother, help me!"

It was so long since he had asked her help
that he was hardly surprised when he got no
answer--only the little lark outside the window
sang louder and louder, and the sun rose,
flooding the room with light.

Prince Dolor sprang out of bed, and began
dressing himself, which was hard work, for he
was not used to it--he had always been accustomed
to depend upon his nurse for everything.

"But I must now learn to be independent,"
thought he. "Fancy a king being dressed like a

So he did the best he could,--awkwardly but
cheerily,--and then he leaped to the corner
where lay his traveling-cloak, untied it as
before, and watched it unrolling itself--which
it did rapidly, with a hearty good-will, as if
quite tired of idleness. So was Prince Dolor--or
felt as if he were. He jumped into the middle
of it, said his charm, and was out through the
skylight immediately.

"Good-by, pretty lark!" he shouted, as he
passed it on the wing, still warbling its carol
to the newly risen sun. "You have been my
pleasure, my delight; now I must go and work.
Sing to old nurse till I come back again. Perhaps
she'll hear you--perhaps she won't--but
it will do her good all the same. Good-by!"

But, as the cloak hung irresolute in air, he
suddenly remembered that he had not determined
where to go--indeed, he did not know,
and there was nobody to tell him.

"Godmother," he cried, in much perplexity,
"you know what I want,--at least, I hope you
do, for I hardly do myself--take me where I
ought to go; show me whatever I ought to see--
never mind what I like to see," as a sudden idea
came into his mind that he might see many painful
and disagreeable things. But this journey
was not for pleasure as before. He was not
a baby now, to do nothing but play--big boys
do not always play. Nor men neither--they
work. Thus much Prince Dolor knew--though
very little more.

As the cloak started off, traveling faster than
he had ever known it to do,--through sky-land
and cloud land, over freezing mountain-tops,
and desolate stretches of forest, and smiling
cultivated plains, and great lakes that seemed
to him almost as shoreless as the sea,--he was
often rather frightened. But he crouched down,
silent and quiet; what was the use of making a
fuss? and, wrapping himself up in his bear-skin,
waited for what was to happen.

After some time he heard a murmur in the
distance, increasing more and more till it grew
like the hum of a gigantic hive of bees. And,
stretching his chin over the rim of his cloak,
Prince Dolor saw--far, far below him, yet, with
his gold spectacles and silver ears on, he could
distinctly hear and see--what?

Most of us have some time or other visited a
great metropolis--have wandered through its
network of streets--lost ourselves in its crowds
of people--looked up at its tall rows of houses,
its grand public buildings, churches, and
squares. Also, perhaps, we have peeped into its
miserable little back alleys, where dirty
children play in gutters all day and half the night--
even young boys go about picking pockets, with
nobody to tell them it is wrong except the policeman,
and he simply takes them off to prison.
And all this wretchedness is close behind the
grandeur--like the two sides of the leaf of a

An awful sight is a large city, seen any how
from any where. But, suppose you were to see
it from the upper air, where, with your eyes
and ears open, you could take in everything at
once? What would it look like? How would
you feel about it? I hardly know myself. Do

Prince Dolor had need to be a king--that is,
a boy with a kingly nature--to be able to stand
such a sight without being utterly overcome.
But he was very much bewildered--as bewildered
as a blind person who is suddenly made to

He gazed down on the city below him, and
then put his hand over his eyes.

"I can't bear to look at it, it is so beautiful--
so dreadful. And I don't understand it--not
one bit. There is nobody to tell me about it.
I wish I had somebody to speak to."

"Do you? Then pray speak to me. I was
always considered good at conversation."

The voice that squeaked out this reply was an
excellent imitation of the human one, though it
came only from a bird. No lark this time, however,
but a great black and white creature that
flew into the cloak, and began walking round
and round on the edge of it with a dignified
stride, one foot before the other, like any
unfeathered biped you could name.

"I haven't the honor of your acquaintance,
sir," said the boy politely.

"Ma'am, if you please. I am a mother bird,
and my name is Mag, and I shall be happy to
tell you everything you want to know. For I
know a great deal; and I enjoy talking. My
family is of great antiquity; we have built in
this palace for hundreds--that is to say, dozens
of years. I am intimately acquainted with the
king, the queen, and the little princes and
princesses--also the maids of honor, and all the
inhabitants of the city. I talk a good deal, but I
always talk sense, and I daresay I should be ex-
ceedingly useful to a poor little ignorant boy
like you."

"I am a prince," said the other gently.

"All right. And I am a magpie. You will
find me a most respectable bird."

"I have no doubt of it," was the polite answer
--though he thought in his own mind that Mag
must have a very good opinion of herself. But
she was a lady and a stranger, so of course
he was civil to her.

She settled herself at his elbow, and began
to chatter away, pointing out with one skinny
claw, while she balanced herself on the other,
every object of interest, evidently believing, as
no doubt all its inhabitants did, that there was
no capital in the world like the great metropolis
of Nomansland.

I have not seen it, and therefore cannot
describe it, so we will just take it upon trust, and
suppose it to be, like every other fine city, the
finest city that ever was built. Mag said so--
and of course she knew.

Nevertheless, there were a few things in it
which surprised Prince Dolor--and, as he had
said, he could not understand them at all. One
half the people seemed so happy and busy--
hurrying up and down the full streets, or driv-
ing lazily along the parks in their grand
carriages, while the other half were so wretched
and miserable.

"Can't the world be made a little more level?
I would try to do it if I were a king."

"But you're not the king: only a little goose
of a boy," returned the magpie loftily. "And
I'm here not to explain things, only to show
them. Shall I show you the royal palace?"

It was a very magnificent palace. It had
terraces and gardens, battlements and towers. It
extended over acres of ground, and had in it
rooms enough to accommodate half the city. Its
windows looked in all directions, but none of
them had any particular view--except a small
one, high up toward the roof, which looked out
on the Beautiful Mountains. But since the
queen died there it had been closed, boarded up,
indeed, the magpie said. It was so little and
inconvenient that nobody cared to live in it.
Besides, the lower apartments, which had no view,
were magnificent--worthy of being inhabited
by the king.

"I should like to see the king," said Prince


What, I wonder, would be
people's idea of a king? What was
Prince Dolor's?

Perhaps a very splendid personage,
with a crown on his head and a scepter in
his hand, sitting on a throne and judging the
people. Always doing right, and never wrong
--"The king can do no wrong" was a law laid
down in olden times. Never cross, or tired, or
sick, or suffering; perfectly handsome and well
dressed, calm and good-tempered, ready to see
and hear everybody, and discourteous to nobody;
all things always going well with him, and
nothing unpleasant ever happening.

This, probably, was what Prince Dolor
expected to see. And what did he see? But I
must tell you how he saw it.

"Ah," said the magpie, "no levee to-day.
The King is ill, though his Majesty does not
wish it to be generally known--it would be so
very inconvenient. He can't see you, but perhaps
you might like to go and take a look at him
in a way I often do? It is so very amusing."

Amusing, indeed!

The prince was just now too much excited to
talk much. Was he not going to see the king his
uncle, who had succeeded his father and
dethroned himself; had stepped into all the pleasant
things that he, Prince Dolor, ought to have
had, and shut him up in a desolate tower? What
was he like, this great, bad, clever man? Had
he got all the things he wanted, which another
ought to have had? And did he enjoy them?

"Nobody knows," answered the magpie, just
as if she had been sitting inside the prince's
heart, instead of on the top of his shoulder. "He
is a king, and that's enough. For the rest nobody

As she spoke, Mag flew down on to the palace
roof, where the cloak had rested, settling down
between the great stacks of chimneys as
comfortably as if on the ground. She pecked at the
tiles with her beak--truly she was a wonderful
bird--and immediately a little hole opened, a
sort of door, through which could be seen
distinctly the chamber below.

"Now look in, my Prince. Make haste, for I
must soon shut it up again."

But the boy hesitated. "Isn't it rude?--
won't they think us intruding?"

"Oh, dear no! there's a hole like this in every
palace; dozens of holes, indeed. Everybody
knows it, but nobody speaks of it. Intrusion!
Why, though the royal family are supposed to
live shut up behind stone walls ever so thick, all
the world knows that they live in a glass house
where everybody can see them and throw a stone
at them. Now pop down on your knees, and
take a peep at his Majesty

His Majesty!

The Prince gazed eagerly down into a large
room, the largest room he had ever beheld, with
furniture and hangings grander than anything
he could have ever imagined. A stray sunbeam,
coming through a crevice of the darkened windows,
struck across the carpet, and it was the
loveliest carpet ever woven--just like a bed of
flowers to walk over; only nobody walked over
it, the room being perfectly empty and silent.

"Where is the King?" asked the puzzled boy.

"There," said Mag, pointing with one wrinkled
claw to a magnificent bed, large enough to
contain six people. In the center of it, just
visible under the silken counterpane,--quite
straight and still,--with its head on the lace
pillow, lay a small figure, something like wax-
work, fast asleep--very fast asleep! There was
a number of sparkling rings on the tiny yellow
hands, that were curled a little, helplessly, like
a baby's, outside the coverlet; the eyes were
shut, the nose looked sharp and thin, and the
long gray beard hid the mouth and lay over the
breast. A sight not ugly nor frightening, only
solemn and quiet. And so very silent--two little
flies buzzing about the curtains of the bed being
the only audible sound.

"Is that the King?" whispered Prince Dolor.

"Yes," replied the bird.

He had been angry--furiously angry--
ever since he knew how his uncle had taken the
crown, and sent him, a poor little helpless child,
to be shut up for life, just as if he had been dead.
Many times the boy had felt as if, king as he
was, he should like to strike him, this great,
strong, wicked man.

Why, you might as well have struck a baby!
How helpless he lay, with his eyes shut, and his
idle hands folded: they had no more work to do,
bad or good.

"What is the matter with him?" asked the

"He is dead," said the Magpie, with a croak.

No, there was not the least use in being angry
with him now. On the contrary, the Prince felt
almost sorry for him, except that he looked so
peaceful with all his cares at rest. And this was
being dead? So even kings died?

"Well, well, he hadn't an easy life, folk say,
for all his grandeur. Perhaps he is glad it is
over. Good-by, your Majesty."

With another cheerful tap of her beak, Mistress
Mag shut down the little door in the tiles,
and Prince Dolor's first and last sight of his
uncle was ended.

He sat in the center of his traveling-cloak,
silent and thoughtful.

"What shall we do now?" said the magpie.
"There's nothing much more to be done with
his majesty, except a fine funeral, which I shall
certainly go and see. All the world will. He
interested the world exceedingly when he was
alive, and he ought to do it now he's dead--just
once more. And since he can't hear me, I may
as well say that, on the whole, his majesty is
much better dead than alive--if we can only get
somebody in his place. There'll be such a row
in the city presently. Suppose we float up again
and see it all--at a safe distance, though. It
will be such fun!"

"What will be fun?"

"A revolution."

Whether anybody except a magpie would have
called it "fun" I don't know, but it certainly
was a remarkable scene.

As soon as the cathedral bell began to toll and
the minute-guns to fire, announcing to the kingdom
that it was without a king, the people
gathered in crowds, stopping at street corners
to talk together. The murmur now and then
rose into a shout, and the shout into a roar.
When Prince Dolor, quietly floating in upper air,
caught the sound of their different and opposite
cries, it seemed to him as if the whole city had
gone mad together.

"Long live the king!" "The king is dead--
down with the king!" "Down with the crown,
and the king too!" "Hurrah for the republic!"
"Hurrah for no government at all!"

Such were the shouts which traveled up to the
traveling-cloak. And then began--oh, what a

When you children are grown men and women
--or before--you will hear and read in books
about what are called revolutions--earnestly I
trust that neither I nor you may ever see one.
But they have happened, and may happen again,
in other countries besides Nomansland, when
wicked kings have helped to make their people
wicked too, or out of an unrighteous nation have
sprung rulers equally bad; or, without either of
these causes, when a restless country has fancied
any change better than no change at all.

For me, I don't like changes, unless pretty
sure that they are for good. And how good can
come out of absolute evil--the horrible evil that
went on this night under Prince Dolor's very
eyes--soldiers shooting down people by hundreds
in the streets, scaffolds erected, and heads
dropping off--houses burned, and women and
children murdered--this is more than I can

But all these things you will find in history,
my children, and must by and by judge for yourselves
the right and wrong of them, as far as
anybody ever can judge.

Prince Dolor saw it all. Things happened
so fast one after another that they quite
confused his faculties.

"Oh, let me go home," he cried at last,
stopping his ears and shutting his eyes; "only let me
go home!" for even his lonely tower seemed
home, and its dreariness and silence absolute
paradise after all this.

"Good-by, then," said the magpie, flapping
her wings. She had been chatting incessantly
all day and all night, for it was actually thus
long that Prince Dolor had been hovering over
the city, neither eating nor sleeping, with all
these terrible things happening under his very
eyes. "You've had enough, I suppose, of seeing
the world?"

"Oh, I have--I have!" cried the prince, with
a shudder.

"That is, till next time. All right, your royal
highness. You don't know me, but I know you.
We may meet again some time."

She looked at him with her clear, piercing
eyes, sharp enough to see through everything,
and it seemed as if they changed from bird's
eyes to human eyes--the very eyes of his godmother,
whom he had not seen for ever so long.
But the minute afterward she became only a
bird, and with a screech and a chatter, spread
her wings and flew away.

Prince Dolor fell into a kind of swoon of
utter misery, bewilderment, and exhaustion, and
when he awoke he found himself in his own room
--alone and quiet--with the dawn just breaking,
and the long rim of yellow light in the horizon
glimmering through the window-panes.


When Prince Dolor sat up in bed,
trying to remember where he was,
whither he had been, and what he
had seen the day before, he
perceived that his room was empty.

Generally his nurse rather worried him by
breaking his slumbers, coming in and "setting
things to rights," as she called it. Now the dust
lay thick upon chairs and tables; there was no
harsh voice heard to scold him for not getting
up immediately, which, I am sorry to say, this
boy did not always do. For he so enjoyed lying
still, and thinking lazily about everything or
nothing, that, if he had not tried hard against it,
he would certainly have become like those celebrated

"Two little men
Who lay in their bed till the clock struck ten."

It was striking ten now, and still no nurse was
to be seen. He was rather relieved at first, for
he felt so tired; and besides, when he stretched
out his arm, he found to his dismay that he had
gone to bed in his clothes.

Very uncomfortable he felt, of course; and
just a little frightened. Especially when he
began to call and call again, but nobody
answered. Often he used to think how nice it
would be to get rid of his nurse and live in this
tower all by himself--like a sort of monarch
able to do everything he liked, and leave undone
all that he did not want to do; but now that this
seemed really to have happened, he did not like
it at all.

"Nurse,--dear nurse,--please come back!" he
called out. "Come back, and I will be the best
boy in all the land."

And when she did not come back, and nothing
but silence answered his lamentable call, he very
nearly began to cry.

"This won't do," he said at last, dashing the
tears from his eyes. "It's just like a baby, and
I'm a big boy--shall be a man some day. What
has happened, I wonder? I'll go and see."

He sprang out of bed,--not to his feet, alas!
but to his poor little weak knees, and crawled on
them from room to room. All the four chambers
were deserted--not forlorn or untidy, for everything
seemed to have been done for his comfort
--the breakfast and dinner things were laid, the
food spread in order. He might live "like a
prince," as the proverb is, for several days.
But the place was entirely forsaken--there was
evidently not a creature but himself in the
solitary tower.

A great fear came upon the poor boy. Lonely
as his life had been, he had never known what it
was to be absolutely alone. A kind of despair
seized him--no violent anger or terror, but a
sort of patient desolation.

"What in the world am I to do?" thought he,
and sat down in the middle of the floor, half
inclined to believe that it would be better to give
up entirely, lay himself down, and die.

This feeling, however, did not last long, for
he was young and strong, and, I said before, by
nature a very courageous boy. There came into
his head, somehow or other, a proverb that his
nurse had taught him--the people of Nomansland
were very fond of proverbs:

"For every evil under the sun
There is a remedy, or there's none;
If there is one, try to find it--
If there isn't, never mind it."

"I wonder is there a remedy now, and could I
find it?" cried the Prince, jumping up and
looking out of the window.

No help there. He only saw the broad, bleak,
sunshiny plain--that is, at first. But by and by,
in the circle of mud that surrounded the base
of the tower, he perceived distinctly the marks
of a horse's feet, and just in the spot where the
deaf-mute was accustomed to tie up his great
black charger, while he himself ascended, there
lay the remains of a bundle of hay and a feed of

"Yes, that's it. He has come and gone, taking
nurse away with him. Poor nurse! how glad
she would be to go!"

That was Prince Dolor's first thought. His
second--wasn't it natural?--was a passionate
indignation at her cruelty--at the cruelty of all
the world toward him, a poor little helpless boy.
Then he determined, forsaken as he was, to try
and hold on to the last, and not to die as long as
he could possibly help it.

Anyhow, it would be easier to die here than
out in the world, among the terrible doings
which he had just beheld--from the midst of
which, it suddenly struck him, the deaf-mute
had come, contriving somehow to make the nurse
understand that the king was dead, and she need
have no fear in going back to the capital, where
there was a grand revolution, and everything
turned upside down. So, of course, she had gone.
"I hope she'll enjoy it, miserable woman--if
they don't cut off her head too."

And then a kind of remorse smote him for
feeling so bitterly toward her, after all the
years she had taken care of him--grudgingly,
perhaps, and coldly; still she had taken care
of him, and that even to the last: for, as I have
said, all his four rooms were as tidy as possible,
and his meals laid out, that he might have no
more trouble than could be helped.

"Possibly she did not mean to be cruel. I
won't judge her," said he. And afterward he
was very glad that he had so determined.

For the second time he tried to dress himself,
and then to do everything he could for himself--
even to sweeping up the hearth and putting on
more coals. "It's a funny thing for a prince
to have to do," said he, laughing. "But my
godmother once said princes need never mind
doing anything."

And then he thought a little of his godmother.
Not of summoning her, or asking her to help
him,--she had evidently left him to help himself,
and he was determined to try his best to
do it, being a very proud and independent boy,
--but he remembered her tenderly and regret-
fully, as if even she had been a little hard upon
him--poor, forlorn boy that he was. But he
seemed to have seen and learned so much within
the last few days that he scarcely felt like
a boy, but a man--until he went to bed at night.

When I was a child, I used often to think
how nice it would be to live in a little house
all by my own self--a house built high up in
a tree, or far away in a forest, or halfway up
a hillside so deliciously alone and independent.
Not a lesson to learn--but no! I always
liked learning my lessons. Anyhow, to choose
the lessons I liked best, to have as many books
to read and dolls to play with as ever I wanted:
above all, to be free and at rest, with nobody to
tease or trouble or scold me, would be charming.
For I was a lonely little thing, who liked
quietness--as many children do; which other
children, and sometimes grown-up people even,
cannot understand. And so I can understand
Prince Dolor.

After his first despair, he was not merely
comfortable, but actually happy in his solitude,
doing everything for himself, and enjoying
everything by himself--until bedtime. Then
he did not like it at all. No more, I suppose,
than other children would have liked my im-
aginary house in a tree when they had had
sufficient of their own company.

But the Prince had to bear it--and he did
bear it, like a prince--for fully five days. All
that time he got up in the morning and went to
bed at night without having spoken to a
creature, or, indeed, heard a single sound.
For even his little lark was silent; and as for
his traveling-cloak, either he never thought
about it, or else it had been spirited away--
for he made no use of it, nor attempted to do so.

A very strange existence it was, those five
lonely days. He never entirely forgot it. It
threw him back upon himself, and into himself
--in a way that all of us have to learn when we
grow up, and are the better for it; but it is
somewhat hard learning.

On the sixth day Prince Dolor had a strange
composure in his look, but he was very grave
and thin and white. He had nearly come to the
end of his provisions--and what was to happen
next? Get out of the tower he could not: the
ladder the deaf-mute used was always carried
away again; and if it had not been, how could
the poor boy have used it? And even if he
slung or flung himself down, and by miraculous
chance came alive to the foot of the tower, how
could he run away?

Fate had been very hard to him, or so it

He made up his mind to die. Not that he
wished to die; on the contrary, there was a
great deal that he wished to live to do; but if
he must die, he must. Dying did not seem so
very dreadful; not even to lie quiet like his
uncle, whom he had entirely forgiven now, and
neither be miserable nor naughty any more, and
escape all those horrible things that he had seen
going on outside the palace, in that awful place
which was called "the world."

"It's a great deal nicer here," said the poor
little Prince, and collected all his pretty things
round him: his favorite pictures, which he
thought he should like to have near him when
he died; his books and toys--no, he had ceased
to care for toys now; he only liked them because
he had done so as a child. And there he sat
very calm and patient, like a king in his castle,
waiting for the end.

"Still, I wish I had done something first--
something worth doing, that somebody might
remember me by," thought he. "Suppose I
had grown a man, and had had work to do, and
people to care for, and was so useful and busy
that they liked me, and perhaps even forgot I
was lame? Then it would have been nice to
live, I think."

A tear came into the little fellow's eyes, and
he listened intently through the dead silence
for some hopeful sound.

Was there one?--was it his little lark, whom
he had almost forgotten? No, nothing half so
sweet. But it really was something--something
which came nearer and nearer, so that there
was no mistaking it. It was the sound of a
trumpet, one of the great silver trumpets so
admired in Nomansland. Not pleasant music,
but very bold, grand, and inspiring.

As he listened to it the boy seemed to recall
many things which had slipped his memory for
years, and to nerve himself for whatever might
be going to happen.

What had happened was this.

The poor condemned woman had not been
such a wicked woman after all. Perhaps her
courage was not wholly disinterested, but she
had done a very heroic thing. As soon as she
heard of the death and burial of the King and
of the changes that were taking place in the
country, a daring idea came into her head--to
set upon the throne of Nomansland its rightful
heir. Thereupon she persuaded the deaf-mute
to take her away with him, and they galloped
like the wind from city to city, spreading
everywhere the news that Prince Dolor's death and
burial had been an invention concocted by his
wicked uncle that he was alive and well, and
the noblest young prince that ever was born.

It was a bold stroke, but it succeeded. The
country, weary perhaps of the late King's
harsh rule, and yet glad to save itself from the
horrors of the last few days, and the still
further horrors of no rule at all, and having no
particular interest in the other young princes,
jumped at the idea of this Prince, who was the
son of their late good King and the beloved
Queen Dolorez.

"Hurrah for Prince Dolor! Let Prince
Dolor be our sovereign!" rang from end to end
of the kingdom. Everybody tried to remember
what a dear baby he once was--how like his
mother, who had been so sweet and kind, and
his father, the finest-looking king that ever
reigned. Nobody remembered his lameness--
or, if they did, they passed it over as a matter
of no consequence. They were determined to
have him reign over them, boy as he was--
perhaps just because he was a boy, since in that
case the great nobles thought they should be
able to do as they liked with the country.

Accordingly, with a fickleness not confined to
the people of Nomansland, no sooner was the
late King laid in his grave than they
pronounced him to have been a usurper; turned
all his family out of the palace, and left it
empty for the reception of the new sovereign,
whom they went to fetch with great rejoicing,
a select body of lords, gentlemen, and soldiers
traveling night and day in solemn procession
through the country until they reached Hopeless

There they found the Prince, sitting calmly
on the floor--deadly pale, indeed, for he
expected a quite different end from this, and
was resolved, if he had to die, to die courageously,
like a Prince and a King.

But when they hailed him as Prince and
King, and explained to him how matters stood,
and went down on their knees before him,
offering the crown (on a velvet cushion, with
four golden tassels, each nearly as big as his
head),--small though he was and lame, which
lameness the courtiers pretended not to notice,
--there came such a glow into his face, such a
dignity into his demeanor, that he became
beautiful, king-like.

"Yes," he said, "if you desire it, I will be
your king. And I will do my best to make my
people happy."

Then there arose, from inside and outside
the tower, such a shout as never yet was heard
across the lonely plain.

Prince Dolor shrank a little from the deafening
sound. "How shall I be able to rule all this
great people? You forget, my lords, that I am
only a little boy still."

"Not so very little," was the respectful
answer. "We have searched in the records,
and found that your Royal Highness--your
Majesty, I mean--is fifteen years old."

"Am I?" said Prince Dolor; and his first
thought was a thoroughly childish pleasure
that he should now have a birthday, with a
whole nation to keep it. Then he remembered
that his childish days were done. He was a
monarch now. Even his nurse, to whom, the
moment he saw her, he had held out his hand,
kissed it reverently, and called him ceremoniously
"his Majesty the King."

"A king must be always a king, I suppose,"
said he half-sadly, when, the ceremonies over,
he had been left to himself for just ten minutes,
to put off his boy's clothes and be reattired in
magnificent robes, before he was conveyed away
from his tower to the royal palace.

He could take nothing with him; indeed, he
soon saw that, however politely they spoke, they
would not allow him to take anything. If he
was to be their king, he must give up his old life
forever. So he looked with tender farewell on
his old books, old toys, the furniture he knew so
well, and the familiar plain in all its levelness--
ugly yet pleasant, simply because it was

"It will be a new life in a new world," said he
to himself; "but I'll remember the old things
still. And, oh! if before I go I could but once
see my dear old godmother."

While he spoke he had laid himself down on
the bed for a minute or two, rather tired with
his grandeur, and confused by the noise of the
trumpets which kept playing incessantly down
below. He gazed, half sadly, up to the skylight,
whence there came pouring a stream of sunrays,
with innumerable motes floating there, like a
bridge thrown between heaven and earth. Sliding
down it, as if she had been made of air, came
the little old woman in gray.

So beautiful looked she--old as she was--that
Prince Dolor was at first quite startled by the
apparition. Then he held out his arms in eager

"Oh, godmother, you have not forsaken me!"

"Not at all, my son. You may not have seen
me, but I have seen you many a time."


"Oh, never mind. I can turn into anything
I please, you know. And I have been a bearskin
rug, and a crystal goblet--and sometimes I have
changed from inanimate to animate nature, put
on feathers, and made myself very comfortable
as a bird."

"Ha!" laughed the prince, a new light breaking
in upon him as he caught the infection{sic} of
her tone, lively and mischievous. "Ha! ha! a
lark, for instance?"

"Or a magpie," answered she, with a capital
imitation of Mistress Mag's croaky voice. "Do
you suppose I am always sentimental, and never
funny? If anything makes you happy, gay, or
grave, don't you think it is more than likely to
come through your old godmother?"

"I believe that," said the boy tenderly, holding
out his arms. They clasped one another in
a close embrace.

Suddenly Prince Dolor looked very anxious.
"You will not leave me now that I am a king?
Otherwise I had rather not be a king at all.
Promise never to forsake me!"

The little old woman laughed gayly. "Forsake
you? that is impossible. But it is just
possible you may forsake me. Not probable
though. Your mother never did, and she was
a queen. The sweetest queen in all the world
was the Lady Dolorez."

"Tell me about her," said the boy eagerly.
"As I get older I think I can understand more.
Do tell me."

"Not now. You couldn't hear me for the
trumpets and the shouting. But when you are
come to the palace, ask for a long-closed upper
room, which looks out upon the Beautiful
Mountains; open it and take it for your own.
Whenever you go there you will always find me,
and we will talk together about all sorts of

"And about my mother?"

The little old woman nodded--and kept
nodding and smiling to herself many times, as
the boy repeated over and over again the sweet
words he had never known or understood--"my
mother--my mother."

"Now I must go," said she, as the trumpets
blared louder and louder, and the shouts of the
people showed that they would not endure any
delay. "Good-by, good-by! Open the window
and out I fly."

Prince Dolor repeated gayly the musical
rhyme--but all the while tried to hold his
godmother fast.

Vain, vain! for the moment that a knocking
was heard at his door the sun went behind a
cloud, the bright stream of dancing motes
vanished, and the little old woman with them--
he knew not where.

So Prince Dolor quitted his tower--which he
had entered so mournfully and ignominiously as
a little helpless baby carried in the deaf-mute's
arms--quitted it as the great King of Nomansland.

The only thing he took away with him was
something so insignificant that none of the lords,
gentlemen, and soldiers who escorted him with
such triumphant splendor could possibly notice
it--a tiny bundle, which he had found lying on
the floor just where the bridge of sunbeams had
rested. At once he had pounced upon it, and
thrust it secretly into his bosom, where it dwin-
dled into such small proportions that it might
have been taken for a mere chest-comforter, a
bit of flannel, or an old pocket-handkerchief.
It was his traveling-cloak!


Did Prince Dolar become a great king?
Was he, though little more than a
boy, "the father of his people," as all
kings ought to be? Did his reign
last long--long and happy? and what were the
principal events of it, as chronicled in the
history of Nomansland?

Why, if I were to answer all these questions
I should have to write another book. And I'm
tired, children, tired--as grown-up people
sometimes are, though not always with play.
(Besides, I have a small person belonging to me,
who, though she likes extremely to listen to the
word-of-mouth story of this book, grumbles
much at the writing of it, and has run about the
house clapping her hands with joy when mamma
told her that it was nearly finished. But that
is neither here nor there.)

I have related as well as I could the history of
Prince Dolor, but with the history of Nomansland
I am as yet unacquainted. If anybody
knows it, perhaps he or she will kindly write it
all down in another book. But mine is done.

However, of this I am sure, that Prince Dolor
made an excellent king. Nobody ever does anything
less well, not even the commonest duty of
common daily life, for having such a godmother
as the little old woman clothed in gray, whose
name is--well, I leave you to guess. Nor, I
think, is anybody less good, less capable of both
work and enjoyment in after-life, for having
been a little unhappy in his youth, as the prince
had been.

I cannot take upon myself to say that he was
always happy now--who is?--or that he had no
cares; just show me the person who is quite free
from them! But whenever people worried and
bothered him--as they did sometimes, with state
etiquette, state squabbles, and the like, setting
up themselves and pulling down their neighbors--
he would take refuge in that upper room
which looked out on the Beautiful Mountains,
and, laying his head on his godmother's shoulder,
become calmed and at rest.

Also, she helped him out of any difficulty
which now and then occurred--for there never
was such a wise old woman. When the people
of Nomansland raised the alarm--as sometimes
they did--for what people can exist without a
little fault-finding?--and began to cry out, "Un-
happy is the nation whose king is a child," she
would say to him gently, "You are a child.
Accept the fact. Be humble--be teachable.
Lean upon the wisdom of others till you have
gained your own."

He did so. He learned how to take advice
before attempting to give it, to obey before he
could righteously command. He assembled
round him all the good and wise of his kingdom
--laid all its affairs before them, and was guided
by their opinions until he had maturely formed
his own.

This he did sooner than anybody would have
imagined who did not know of his godmother
and his traveling-cloak--two secret blessings,
which, though many guessed at, nobody quite
understood. Nor did they understand why he
loved so the little upper room, except that it had
been his mother's room, from the window of
which, as people remembered now, she had used
to sit for hours watching the Beautiful Mountains.

Out of that window he used to fly--not very
often; as he grew older, the labors of state
prevented the frequent use of his traveling-cloak;
still he did use it sometimes. Only now it was
less for his own pleasure and amusement than
to see something or investigate something for
the good of the country. But he prized his
godmother's gift as dearly as ever. It was a
comfort to him in all his vexations, an enhancement
of all his joys. It made him almost forget
his lameness--which was never cured.

However, the cruel things which had been once
foreboded of him did not happen. His misfortune
was not such a heavy one, after all. It
proved to be of much less inconvenience, even to
himself, than had been feared. A council of
eminent surgeons and mechanicians invented
for him a wonderful pair of crutches, with the
help of which, though he never walked easily or
gracefully, he did manage to walk so as to be
quite independent. And such was the love his
people bore him that they never heard the sound
of his crutches on the marble palace floors without
a leap of the heart, for they knew that good
was coming to them whenever he approached.

Thus, though he never walked in processions,
never reviewed his troops mounted on a magnificent
charger, nor did any of the things which
make a show monarch so much appreciated, he
was able for all the duties and a great many of
the pleasures of his rank. When he held his
levees, not standing, but seated on a throne in-
geniously contrived to hide his infirmity, the
people thronged to greet him; when he drove out
through the city streets, shouts followed him
wherever he went--every countenance brightened
as he passed, and his own, perhaps, was the
brightest of all.

First, because, accepting his affliction as
inevitable, he took it patiently; second, because,
being a brave man, he bore it bravely, trying to
forget himself, and live out of himself, and in
and for other people. Therefore other people
grew to love him so well that I think hundreds
of his subjects might have been found who were
almost ready to die for their poor lame king.

He never gave them a queen. When they
implored him to choose one, he replied that his
country was his bride, and he desired no other.
But perhaps the real reason was that he shrank
from any change; and that no wife in all the
world would have been found so perfect, so
lovable, so tender to him in all his weaknesses as
his beautiful old godmother.

His twenty-four other godfathers and
godmothers, or as many of them as were still alive,
crowded round him as soon as he ascended the
throne. He was very civil to them all, but
adopted none of the names they had given him,
keeping to the one by which he had been always
known, though it had now almost lost its meaning;
for King Dolor was one of the happiest and
cheerfulest men alive.

He did a good many things, however, unlike
most men and most kings, which a little
astonished his subjects. First, he pardoned the
condemned woman who had been his nurse, and
ordained that from henceforth there should be
no such thing as the punishment of death in
Nomansland. All capital criminals were to be
sent to perpetual imprisonment in Hopeless
Tower and the plain round about it, where they
could do no harm to anybody, and might in time
do a little good, as the woman had done.

Another surprise he shortly afterward gave
the nation. He recalled his uncle's family, who
had fled away in terror to another country, and
restored them to all their honors in their own.
By and by he chose the eldest son of his eldest
cousin (who had been dead a year), and had him
educated in the royal palace, as the heir to the
throne. This little prince was a quiet,
unobtrusive boy, so that everybody wondered at
the King's choosing him when there were so
many more; but as he grew into a fine young
fellow, good and brave, they agreed that the
King judged more wisely than they.

"Not a lame prince, either," his Majesty
observed one day, watching him affectionately; for
he was the best runner, the highest leaper, the
keenest and most active sportsman in the
country. "One cannot make one's self, but one
can sometimes help a little in the making of
somebody else. It is well."

This was said, not to any of his great lords
and ladies, but to a good old woman--his first
homely nurse whom he had sought for far and
wide, and at last found in her cottage among
the Beautiful Mountains. He sent for her to
visit him once a year, and treated her with great
honor until she died. He was equally kind,
though somewhat less tender, to his other nurse,
who, after receiving her pardon, returned to
her native town and grew into a great lady, and
I hope a good one. But as she was so grand a
personage now, any little faults she had did not

Thus King Dolor's reign passed year after
year, long and prosperous. Whether he were
happy--"as happy as a king"--is a question no
human being can decide. But I think he was,
because he had the power of making everybody
about him happy, and did it too; also because he
was his godmother's godson, and could shut himself
up with her whenever he liked, in that quiet
little room in view of the Beautiful Mountains,
which nobody else ever saw or cared to see. They
were too far off, and the city lay so low. But
there they were, all the time. No change ever
came to them; and I think, at any day throughout
his long reign, the King would sooner have
lost his crown than have lost sight of the
Beautiful Mountains.

In course of time, when the little Prince, his
cousin, was grown into a tall young man, capable
of all the duties of a man, his Majesty did one of
the most extraordinary acts ever known in a
sovereign beloved by his people and prosperous
in his reign. He announced that he wished to

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